What constitutes a high-performance rewards and recognition system?

This article first appeared in DNA India on December 21st, 2017.

Organisations know that employee engagement plays a huge impact on multiple facets of the business including the top and bottom lines, productivity, safety, attrition and customer satisfaction to name a few. As companies struggle to retain talent, rewards and recognition (R&R) have become a means for them to hold on to their star performers. Organisations realise that success is driven by satisfied and motivated employees. These, in turn, can be enhanced through rewards and recognition.

Studies show that over 90% of companies have some form of an R&R program. While these form part of the larger cost to the company (CTC) for employee compensation and benefits, R&R programs typically cost less than base pay, benefits, stock options and bonus. However, their impact on the overall morale and motivation of employees is significant.

Good R&R programs have four main purposes, viz., to recognize individuals and teams in a timely and effective manner, provide multiple opportunities to recognize members of the organisation, recognise that each individual can make a difference and create a fair, flexible and repeatable practice that becomes a habit within the organisation.

Obviously, there is a whole continuum in the way in which R&R programs are put into practice. At the lowest end are those programs that recognize results. These are fairly infrequent, often annual affairs and deal with the achievement of specific goals. These programs are a way for the organisation to recognise individual employees and in general, is seen as a way to drive goal achievement. The next rung in the R&R ladder is one that recognizes performance. These are far more frequent, often monthly and left to the discretion of the individual managers. These programs provide managers with a way to motivate their team members and awards accomplishments at a more granular level.

By far, the most superior R&R programs, while acknowledging the importance of results and performance, reward behaviours. These programs move away from the monthly or annual recognition devices and are continuous in nature. Moreover, rather than enable Managers or Corporate Leaders to determine who the recipients should be, these programs enable peer to peer feedback and recognition. This also includes 360° feedback given by employees to their managers, all in real-time. Such programs help to reward specific behaviours that align with organisational values and help in reinforcing these core values. They in turn help drive performance which enables goals to be accomplished.

Such programs are often gamified with employees being awarded points for both receiving and presenting recognitions and feedback. The points can then be redeemed across different retail outlets. Gamification also helps in driving a level of good-natured competition among different teams resulting in the initiation of a virtuous cycle where good behaviour begets better behaviour.

And who could quibble with that as an end result?